Thoughts before the storm
Well, I don't know about you, but I'm having possibly the laziest Saturday afternoon possible today. Little will to move, let alone blog.
But I do have a few random thoughts to put out there before all hell breaks loose tomorrow at noon:
- The big thing to watch for is going to be how involved "bad" teams will be tomorrow. And by bad, I essentially mean those who didn't make the playoffs, who sold off assets late in the year and who have plenty of cap space. Think Washington, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Colorado, Philadelphia, St. Louis, etc. (The Capitals' brass told me personally this off-season that they'll be in the mix for one top-notch forward and defenceman, so take that for what it's worth.)
As much as there's been talk of the so-called desirable teams being able to attract the top free agents, players like Scott Gomez, Dan Briere and Chris Drury are probably all headed to teams that weren't contenders last season simply because those are the teams with the right combination of money to throw around and desperation to turn things around for their respective franchises.
GMs like Peter Chiarelli in Boston are going to make here-and-now decisions in order to keep their jobs, and that's going to mean some (more) goofy contracts throughout the league.
- The figure I've heard served up by the Islanders for Ryan Smyth is $50-million over seven years, which is a helluva place to start the bidding. More likely, however, Smyth has no interest in locking in so long in what's been a pretty dysfunctional organization, and he could be one of the "big" names who takes a discount to play with a contender.
- Eric Duhatschek (who I finally met in person this week when he was in town for the Hockey Hall of Fame voting) had what was likely the best UFA preview piece in today's Globe and Mail, and in it he basically outlines how the bidding is expected by all to be fast and furious. There's a good chance that, by the holiday Monday, we've seen the majority of the desirables snapped up — something that should only add to that desperation I talked about already.
- With the salary cap rising to $50.3-million, the max individual player salary just climbed to just more than $10-million, and while I don't think anyone in this class of free agents will head into that stratosphere, there are players who will get that figure in the near future. (Think Sid Crosby.) What that means is that other elite centres will be priced out according to that high end, and I expect Drury to command about $8-million per season on the open market despite the fact he's never had a 70-point season. He's good, but not that good, and that kind of bloated deal moves him into the liability side of the ledger.
- Here's one last look at my master UFA lists: Forwards, Defencemen and Goaltenders.
Spector and Kukla are the other guys to follow on this business, as all of us apparently have little better to do with our Sundays.
And now I'm going to go waste my cap money on John McClane's latest adventures.
Labels: free agency